To return to our investigation of our only evidence, we were disappointed that the burial had no jewellery of any sort. Since the mourning family do consign valuables, of the smaller kind, to the eternal box as accompaniments for the journey, which one has to say does hark back to the practices of an earlier era.
He had surely hoped some token might reveal — we might have found some medallion of civic dignitary: the Oddfellows, or Free Foresters, perhaps.
But no, and he turns his attention to the casket.
The wood of oak, English indigenous,
No small plate of the coffin-maker, not even to betray a north side or a south.
The casket was splintered and blackened, perhaps more extensively towards the bottom, the feet, than the top.
That it had been in the river for some time: the wood is sodden, water damage, yes, indeed.
The coffin had floated, in a fashion, we assume.
The brass handles are only for the carriage. Their escutcheons are empty.
A wretch scrabbles down into the pit to remove them, once the mourners have departed, and before the final filling-in.
We are not looking at a representative of England’s nobility, who will even use their last carriage for some ostentation, hoping the proud name is upheld for the following generation.
He looked at the screws — for it is screws now, not nails.
The silk lining of a medium quality.
Aha! We were wrong in surmising no jewellery—
For there it was. Hidden in the pleating. Detached from its albert, and corrupted with spotting of verdigris, because it is not of gold, a pocket watch.
A serviceable timepiece. Of pinchbeck — and this confirms our earlier opinion. And further, better, the case monogrammed.
He gave it his full attention, rotating in the gas light to catch the design in its complexity. He struggled with it for a couple of minutes, but the gloom made the monogram impossible to read immediately.
—We may have to consult an expert engraver.
After that he asked kindly to retain the watch for a day or so, in order to carry out these enquiries, and Lestrade, having examined it for himself, assented.
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When No One is Looking by Hannah Shilling is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.